Thursday, March 29, 2007

Two Down, One to Go!

I had three goals for spring break: finish the four patch, get something sandwiched and basted, and get a border on this quilt. Well, the four patch is to the flimsy stage and I finally got the border on this quilt.

It may not be my oldest UFO, but it's darn close. I started this way back when my daughter was in high school, in the fall (can't you tell?). I don't even remember what year it was. I just remember driving through the country to get to one of my daughter's cross country meets and seeing the wonderful fall colors on the trees in the hills and carrying that picture in my mind as I hunted for fat quarters in the quilt shop.

Like one of my typical projects it started out without much of a plan. I liked the two blocks. I liked them together, despite the quilt police edict that different blocks in a quilt should have the same grid, or some such nonsense. I happened to have just enough of the lattice material to get all the squares together; I even had the border material bought, washed, and ironed. And then...I put it away! With the border it is double-bed sized. I think when I saw how big it had gotten I knew I probably would never find the time to hand-quilt it.

But, at our last quilt retreat I met a long-arm quilter who said she would put me on her list. I'm going to get this thing quilted and ON A BED! (My husband often comments that with all the quilting I do, I never have anything large enough to put on a bed.)

This block is called "Toad in a Puddle." Don't you love that name?

And, I went out today and bought enough batting to sandwich the mystery quilt. The living room floor is cleared and ready. Sandwiching is going to happen tonight!

I saw a tip (I think on the Fons and Porter website) about putting a marble under the backing after it is taped to the floor so that you don't keep stabbing the floor with your needle while you are basting the layers together. I'm going to try this--our hardwood floors don't need any more scratches!

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Yellow Jewel and Scrap Cutting

I thought I would share a picture of this magnificent forsythia that I pass each day on the way to work. Not that I can see it in the dark on the way to work when it's dark, but I definitely can see it at the other end of the day. It's hard to get an idea of the scale in this picture, but I think you could probably hide a school bus behind it with maybe just the top sticking out a bit. I think they must have planted a ring of them and let it go from there.

A few years ago our town fathers had these Bradford pear trees planted in a row down this street. They are really beautiful when they are in bloom in early spring. In between the trees they installed old fashioned street lights, and it's a beautiful drive down the road after dark. I didn't think I could manage the picture in the dark, so here it is in daylight.

So there you have it: scenic southern Indiana in the spring.

Yesterday after finishing the four patch, I took these squares out again. Remember these? Last fall I began working on them, only to get sidetracked by the log cabin, the Christmas things, the mystery quilt, and the four patch. I was going to work on the layout and see if maybe I had enough to declare it finished. When I got it up on the wall though it seemed such a shame to call it quits on this when I have boxes and bags full of scraps and leftovers that are just aching to see the light of day in a quilt.

So, I started going through my bags of crumbs--bits that are just too small to put back in my boxes of fat quarters and yardage. I cut enough for twenty or so new blocks. (They are only 4-1/2 square.) Then, this afternoon after running all the errands, I started going through the boxes with the larger pieces in them. I cut even more.

But, you know what? I found myself actually putting fabric BACK into the boxes. Some little voice, somewhere in my head was telling me, "This is okay, but not this, or this." It suddenly occurred to me, WHY in the world would I not use these scraps in a scrap quilt? What in the world am I saving them for?

So, I went BACK through the boxes and starting pulling out bits and pieces of fabric and I'll be cutting more tonight. Truthfully, I could make this quilt a California king-size and STILL have fabric left over.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring is Here

This has been a beautiful spring weekend. The forsythia is in bloom. The trees all have that misty green color they get before they actually leaf out. We've had two sunny, warm days in a row. One of our more energetic neighbors even got his lawn mower out and had a go at his front lawn.

I worked a little bit on the four block on Saturday, then finished it up this afternoon. This was made from a Moda charm pack called Picket Fence. I used a technique I got from Darlene at Quilting Daze for making the four-block patches. I was even able to find some yardage of my favorite of the fabrics to use for the border. It's very simple, but I love it! I had a lot of fun putting it together. The fabric reminds me of some old cotton tablecloths my mother had. Thanks, Darlene!

And thanks for all the comments on the round robin block I was working on for our guild project. Below you can see what I have to work on this month.

Everyone must have been thinking of spring when they put their original blocks together. I found some beautiful buttery orange in my stash and I bought a fat quarter of yellow with tiny purple flowers. Now I'm trying to figure out how to proceed. We'll see...

Usually at this point on a Sunday night I am finishing up laundry and mentally running down my list of things I have to do at school tomorrow, but next week is spring break! My agenda for tomorrow is to sleep in, run a couple of errands, and then sew.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

You Never Can Tell

You never can tell how a day is going to turn out!

I woke up suddenly this morning with a terrible headache thinking that it was quarter after seven, giving me exactly 45 minutes to get ready and get to work. Panic time! Once I managed to actually get my eyes open I realized that it was only quarter after five, so I was able to take an aspirin and go back to bed to try to sleep the headache off. At six, the headache had abated somewhat, so I went about trying to get ready for work.

I was pretty snarly by the time I got to school, and morning duty in the gym didn't help my mood much. At our school all the students sit in the gym for morning assembly--three teachers each day have the task of keeping order for the twenty minutes or so between the time the doors open and the time the principal comes in to make announcements and lead the pledge to the flag. This is the last week before Spring Break, so the kids have been pretty wild. Picture supervising 280 wild kids in a gym. When you have a headache.

When you're a teacher, though, no matter what your mood you just have to suck it up. So I did. Suck it up.

So began my day. My last thought as I walked up the stairs to my classroom was, "Am I going to make it through the morning?"

But then, something happened. Actually quite a few little somethings happened.

First, Wednesday is the day I check off the words on flashcards that my kids have been working on all week. Most of them have a stack of ten words--get five checks and you have "mastered" that word and you get to take it home and brag to your mom that you learned a new word. This morning I started on the cards with the kids and every single one got EVERY SINGLE WORD!

The day started looking a little brighter.

Then, a little boy who struggles to read each word in each story he tries came in and asked (asked!) if he could write a story. Ten minutes later he handed me his paper--with a three sentence story! With words I could actually read!

The day was definitely a LOT brighter! It is for moments like this that I am a teacher.

I posted a picture (and here's hoping that it stays posted) of the block I have worked on for the round robin for my quilt guild. A very nice lady named Audrey made the center block. I fussed around for a while before I decided on the border for it. I couldn't match that green she used and I spent a lot of time worrying that the darker green would overpower the center, but I'm reasonably pleased with the way it turned out. Tomorrow we all exchange blocks and get the new one we will be working on next month.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Blogger Ate My Pictures!

I put up some pictures with my last post, but they seem to have disappeared! When I check the Html code, the picture code is still there, but the pictures do not appear. This has happened once before, but I thought it was just a fluke. Does anyone have any idea what is going on here? Not that the pictures were great art or anything, but still...

I was away from the computer over the weekend because my daughter and her boyfriend were in town AND my niece from Iowa paid an unexpected visit with her new husband. We haven't seen this niece for several years and had never had the opportunity to meet her husband. We had a great time catching up with each other.

When I got back to the computer this morning, I had over a hundred new posts to read through on Bloglines. My goodness, everyone was very busy this weekend! I'm working my way through everyone's postings, but it might take me a day or two.

** I deleted the pictures and then put them back in. Will they stay this time?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Bit of This, A Bit of That

Another week seems to have come and gone without me quite getting a handle on it. I'm blaming it on spring fever. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I began sewing the little four blocks to the setting squares on Sunday night. As I said before, this is the quickest I have ever had a quilt go together. The diagonal strips are done and I'm about half-way through piecing the strips together. The blue and pink is part of the same same fabric collection which I ordered on-line and intend to use for the border.

Somehow I seem to have caught a sock bug this winter. I blame it on the fact that I discovered a really nice yarn shop close by. The owner gave me a very simple, very generic sock pattern a few skeins ago and I find it very nice to have another little craft to tuck into those moments when I get stalled out with quilting. Or when I need something a little mindless and soothing to do.

This is the cuff of a sock I've been working on for a while. I actually had the whole sock done (from a published pattern), but I didn't like the heel, or the toe, for that matter, so I pulled it all back and now I'm back to my regular, generic pattern. The yarn is from Mountain Colors and is very easy to knit with. The color is Sierra. It reminds me of a sunset over a mountain.

I have been blog-hopping and I noticed that several have mentioned that they are not always receiving e-mail notification when comments are posted on their blogs. This is also happening to me. So...if you have commented and I haven't replied, please know that I will get back to you. I appreciate all the comments that I get. I still find it incredible that I am communicating with a community that is world-wide.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Vintage Blocks

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This morning I had a good lie-in, still recovering from all the excitement of yesterday. I then spent a pleasant hour blog surfing and ran across Patti at Quilting is My Passion. She has posted pictures of blocks she made in the 90's. Something struck a chord with me and I suddenly realized that they were the same as some hand sewn blocks I bought several years ago at an antique store in Illinois.

I often wonder how it is that they didn't find their way into a quilt. Were they too wonky? (The Y-seam in the lower left hand corner isn't flat and they are not really square.) Were they leftovers from a finished quilt? Were they the start of a quilt that never got finished?

Every so often I take them out just to look at. I've never been able to decide what to do with them. I guess I just like having them and trying to guess the story behind them.

They are, by the way, very similar to Brackman #3936 except that the center square is the same size as the surrounding squares. Patti said she thought the name was Grandmother's Choice.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

DI Day!

Today was Destination Imagination tournament day! Our team has been preparing for this since last November. If you haven't heard of this great program, I posted about it in January with a link back to their website.

Our team consisted of four third-graders, one fourth-grader, and two fifth-graders. They worked together to research traditions of six different countries to incorporate into an improvisational skit which they put on for a panel of judges. Sound easy? Well, they ALSO had to somehow get in three senses (hearing, smelling, taste, etc.), an original object which they had to make on-site, a "situation" (which they learned as they went in to prepare their skit), and a picture (which they saw one minute before they went on). They had 30 minutes to prepare all this and come up with a six minute skit consisting of 3 scenes. Whew! And they DID it!

I am so proud of them!

Needless to say, most of my spare time for the last week has been spent getting these kids ready for the tournament. Getting seven bright, creative kids all moving in the same direction is MY challenge. Each year (this is my fifth) during the week before tournament I start wondering why I am doing this and if I can possibly go on doing it for another year. Then we go to tournament and I start making plans for next year!

On a quilty note, thank you for all the comments on the lilac block and the charm square blocks. The lilac was made by a member of my guild, and it is so pretty I want to make a really good border for her. That's for tomorrow! Right now, I'm going to settle down with a nice hot cup of coffee, put my feet up, and start planning for next year's DI team.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Dreaming of Spring

This is the block I was supposed to be working on for our guild's round robin. The colors in this picture aren't great; I didn't think to take the picture until it got dark outside. I had all I needed--fabric and a lovely sunny afternoon to work--and I started out with the best of intentions. I was thinking of a square in a square at each corner with three bars connecting them. It was just a matter of deciding which fabric was going where.

As I said, I had the best of intentions...then I finally located my little collection of charm squares. I've been looking for these ever since Darlene at Quilting Daze posted about how to make four square blocks using charm squares.

I thought I would try just one or two squares to see if her technique would work for me. Those worked out great. Then I tried a few more, then a few more...and now I have 50 of these little beauties! I've never had something go together quite so well and so quickly before.

These are from the Moda Picket Fence collection. Don't you love the spring colors? I'm going to set them together with some cream fabric (from my stash) and border it with another piece of the collection that I just ordered. (I'm not on a fabric diet, but I should be!)

These lovely pinks and blues were just the right thing for a sunny afternoon in the almost-spring.